Do you love Christ?
Now I want to ask that again; the exact same question, with a different wording:
Do you love the church?
Now understand, when I say “church” I don’t mean the building in which we congregate.
Lets define our terms:
The word “church” in the Greek is “ekklēsia” which is a compound of the words “ek” meaning “out” and “kal’eho” meaning “to call” or “to invite.”
The “church” therefore, refers to those who have been “called out” or “invited out” of the world and into Christ.
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light
1 Peter 2:9
The word “church” is used to describe the collection of every saved person. It is an institution; an organization you might say. Not one with a physical address that you can journey to as an outsider, however. It’s kind of like how (and this is an imperfect illustration) you’re an American. It doesn’t matter if you’re all the way over in Antarctica, no matter where you are physically you’re still an American. You’re still a part of that body of citizens.
So when I say “do you love the church” I mean the same thing as to say “do you love the saved in Christ.” The saved is the church but that’s not what we tend to think of when we say “the church” is it? We tend to think of something the Christian goes into, but that is not right.
Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
Why does it say the Lord adds to the church? Why don’t I JOIN the church? Because the church isn’t a THING you CAN join. In a lot of ways the church is a state of mind (in the mind of God that is). God sees everybody in the world, but He only sees you as either saved or lost. And if you are lost, its because you are not saved. Those who are saved, are saved because they have been called out of darkness (by obeying God). Upon obeying God, He adds you to the rest of the number of those who have also obeyed Him; He adds you to the called out.
If there are 10 people who are saved, and then He saves you, He adds you to the 10; the LORD adds to the church.
But since a lot of people don’t think of the church like that, and since a lot of people view the church as a THING, when we ask the question “do you love the church” a lot of people might hesitate to answer. Ask them, however if they love Christ, and they answer instantly.
What I want us to see is the question is same. I can’t love Christ and NOT love the church OF Christ. Let’s consider four reasons why we ought to love the church…
LOVE THE CHURCH…
…BECAUSE CHRIST CAME TO BUILD IT
When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?
And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.
He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Notice Jesus’ question. After close to three years teaching, He asks His disciples “what do people think of Me? Whom do men say that I am?”
And they answer: “they think You’re one of the prophets come back from the dead…” This is ironic, since He is a prophet, and He will come back from the dead, but when He does most will refuse to believe it. While He’s still alive, however, they’re willing to accept the possibility that Jesus is a prophet of old who has risen from the dead. Ironic, no?
Jesus then asks a second question: “Whom do YOU say that I am?”
Peter puts three years of experience, listening, learning, and seeing to a head and he says “you are the Christ, the son of the living God. And from Peter’s acknowledgement that Jesus is the Christ, Jesus says upon that foundation (the rock)–the fact of His Divinity–He would build His church.
He didn’t build His church upon Peter. Jesus said TO Peter, upon this “rock” He would build His church. What rock? In the Greek, the word Peter is “petros” meaning a little stone (a brick). The word used here, rock, is “petra” meaning a slab or a foundation stone. Jesus says He’s building His church upon a foundation, not a brick. He’s building on the foundation of His Godhood.
We should love the church because Jesus built it. It is of His creation, not man’s. He oversees it, not men.
LOVE THE CHURCH
…BECAUSE CHRIST DIED TO ESTABLISH IT
As Jesus said in the previous text (Matthew 16:18), He died to establish it. Didn’t He say “the gates of hades (meaning “the grave”) will not prevail against the building of it!”? They will kill Him, Jesus says, but He will rise from the dead, conquering death itself, and will build His church.
And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,
Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.
Christ is the head of the church, which is HIS body. What controls the body? The head. If the body is the church, what is it’s head? Jesus!
He established the church. He owns it, runs it, organizes it, adds to it. It is not for man to determine how, where, when, or to what extent we worship the Father. Yet there are hundreds of religious organizations out there that claim Christianity that are owned by men, run by men, organized by men, and added to by men.
They ought not be. Christ established ONE church (Ephesians 4:4), with Him and Him alone as its head. He did not establish a denomination. Denominations are man made organizations. They have headquarters in Atlanta, in Rome, in Salt Lake City, in London, etc. Jesus established one spiritual body. And He did so at the cost of His own life…
For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
Love the church because Christ gave His life for it. We’ve got to stop thinking about the church as something separate from Christianity: it’s not. Your Bible says Jesus died for the church. What is the church? You are, if you’re saved. Without His death you have no hope, no chance at heaven, no salvation. Because without His death He can’t establish a spiritual home for the saved. He can’t separate the saved from the lost world without His death.
The price He had to pay to establish that spiritual home was His own precious blood.
We need to love the church. How could we not when Jesus came to build it? How could we not when Jesus died to establish it?
LOVE THE CHURCH
…BECAUSE CHRIST LIVES TO DEFEND IT
And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,
And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.
And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:
And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
Listen to Jesus: “Saul Saul why are you persecuting…ME!” Now, to my knowledge, Paul had not laid a finger on Christ. As far as Paul knew, before that very moment, Jesus was dead and buried somewhere. As far as Paul knew, Jesus’ body had been stolen by the men he was hunting. Yet here Jesus knocks him off his high horse and says “you’ve been persecuting ME.”
As a dad I can tell you, if you mess with my child you mess with me. As a husband, if you attack my wife you attack me. As a family man, if you hurt my family you hurt me.
Why? Because a family is one, inseparable.
When you attack my Lord’s family, you attack my Lord.
Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
God will repay those who have attacked His people. Jesus takes it personally when His church is attacked. He lives not only to preserve His saints but also to punish His enemies. He will not only secure His saved with righteous pardon, but He will cast away the lost from Him with righteous justice. For that reason alone, as members of His church, we ought to love the fact that we belong to it. Because we know the ever-living Savior, ever lives to defend us!
LOVE THE CHURCH
…BECAUSE CHRIST’S FAMILY IS IN IT
With this last point, there are Six scriptures to go through, asking questions as we go…
And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
If you want to be a part of Christ’s family you have to take up your cross and be crucified.
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
You are Crucified (killed) WITH Christ
For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
We put on Christ in baptism
Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.
And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;
We are baptized, and are BURIED with him, so that we may be risen with him. We have faith that God has spiritually operated on us – cutting out the sin from our soul like a surgeon removes tumor from a organ.
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
For he that is dead is freed from sin.
In baptism, we are baptized into His death, buried by baptism into our death, and raised into Jesus Christ with a new spiritual life. Thus our old man is CRUCIFIED with Him and we are freed from our sin.
To what extent…
For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,
That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;
That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
When you become a Christian you crucify the old man of sin, having it spiritually surgically removed by the great physician. You are added by Christ into His family, wherein you glorify God (in the church) by Christ Jesus.
Love the church:
BECAUSE CHRIST CAME TO BUILD IT
BECAUSE CHRIST DIED TO ESTABLISH IT
BECAUSE CHRIST LIVES TO DEFEND IT
BECAUSE CHRIST FAMILY IS IN IT
Are you a Christian?
Are you in His church?
Think about it,
have a great day!